Tuesday October 24, 2017
HERE we bring you last night's programme notes from Nigel Pearson, Heathens Director.

WE are delighted to host, for an eighth successive year, the F.A.S.T Golden Hammer – although, of course, it is the latest ever staging for the prestigious event.

This is a consequence of a disrupted season thanks to the weather and the fact that we have been at the mercy of dates here at Monmore and at Perry Barr.

Our critics who have questioned our honesty over this need to have a look at themselves. Do you honestly think, if we had an available plum date in the summer, we wouldn’t have used it for our showpiece meeting? Get real. Our priority was to complete our league fixtures.

There are regular critics of the management and I can take it on the chin. However, what I cannot accept is accusations of us not telling the full story, not being totally honest you get my drift.

Working in media as I do, as a director of this club I have taken great pride in our communication with fans through newspapers, magazines, radio and social media. We have said things at the appropriate time.

Chris Van Straaten, Gary Patchett and myself have run the Heathens for eight seasons in our spare time – which isn’t a lot. I feel extremely guilty about the fact that we haven’t been there to support Will and the team when in an ideal world we should have done. I put my own hands up to that, but anyone who knows me personally knows how my life works!

Gary has worked hard behind the scenes at the same time as ensuring Halesowen Cricket Club have the best possible playing surface. Congratulations to Gary and the team for winning promotion.

Chris Van Straaten has shown what a remarkable man he is. Chris made it public in his Wolverhampton programme notes recently that he is uncertain over whether he will be the ‘front man’ here next year due to illness.

He’s been battling on all season – both for Wolverhampton and for the Heathens. There have been days when he’s needed to rest up and other days he’s been back to his bright and sharp best, cracking jokes and enjoying the usual banter.

Make no mistake, despite his Wolverhampton ownership, the Heathens would not have existed without Chris. I cannot tell you how much I admire the man for the way he has handled his illness and I take my hat off to the entire Van Straaten family.

On behalf of the Heathens, my thanks to Mark Van Straaten for stepping in when necessary and to Karl Van Straaten for his work with the club, too.

I sincerely hope the Heathens are back on track in 2018. If we aren’t it will be for one simple reason – we don’t have a track of our own.

To that end, let me once again send my good wishes to the Heathens Speedway Supporters Trust in their never ending work search for a new site and a track to take the Heathens home.

I say this despite the fact that their chairman has been, frankly, a disgrace, in some of the things he has written about the Heathens management. I have been left stunned how grown men behave on a keyboard at times and the Trust chairman is in that category. Criticise, yes, but don’t use libel and slander – and grow up.

So, enjoy tonight and I’m sure we are in for some terrific racing for the Hammer title. Let’s see what the next few weeks bring and hope there are enough dates here at Monmore to allow the Heathens to continue into 2018. Fingers crossed!

Finally, let me be the first to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Regards, Nigel Pearson.
Director, Heathens Speedway Club Ltd.

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